Self-publishing is a lot easier than you’d think and once you’ve done it, you’ll wonder why you ever hesitated. Believe me.
I sat with my completed manuscript for over six years, thinking that self-publishing was an insurmountable task. However, unless you can find an agent / publisher willing to take a chance on a complete unknown self-publishing really is your only option if you want your work to be read.
Last year, after years of procrastinating I finally got my act together. With the help of a creative son who took on the front cover and a partner who’s an IT specialist at my side, I finally took the leap into self-publishing and my book went ‘live’ on 1st January 2018.
Here’s what I learned:
It’s so much easier than you think it’s going to be.
You really don’t need an IT specialist at your side (much as it was nice to have him there 😊)
You get a huge sense of satisfaction in doing it all by yourself and keeping total control over your work. When you hit that ‘publish’ button, enjoy the moment and be proud.
If you’re thinking about doing it, here’s some beginner’s advice from another beginner:
Preparation is everything. There are certain key components you need to have ready so you’ve got everything at hand once you’re ready to self-publish. These include:
Front cover ( 2560 x1600 pixels is the recommended size) This is really important and it’s worth spending time on this. My front cover was created using Adobe Photoshop but I needed someone in the know to help me here. If you don’t have such a person at hand pay a professional. A lot depends on the look you want.
Title page: keep it simple, just your name and the name of the book.
Copyright page. This is what mine looks like – I looked at the wording other authors had used and felt this covered all bases.
Copyright © 2017 Catherine Alexandra
All rights reserved.
Front cover © 2017 Rory Lawson
The right of Catherine Alexandra to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by the author in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express permission of the publisher / author.
About the author. Write this in third person – it looks more professional. It doesn’t need to be long or humorous or wildly clever – at the end of the day readers just want to get a sense of your life and who you are. Keep it simple Be yourself.
Acknowledgements. You’ll feel a bit as though you’re writing an Oscars acceptance speech here but go with it. It’s really important to say thank you to the people who support and inspire you. Word of caution here though– think carefully about this. It’s very hard to please everyone but it’s very easy to displease someone…
Genre and tag words / phrases. Books don’t always fit neatly into the given genres but have in mind those as close to your book as possible and select as many as you can – it gives your book a greater chance of being found by readers searching by genre. With Kindle Direct Publishing you are allowed seven tag words / phrases. Think about what words a reader might use to search for a book of interest, for example ‘age-gap love story,’ ‘holiday romance,’ and so on.
Pricing. Know what you want to charge for your book – it’s a fine balancing act. You probably won’t want to give it away jus yet but you’re also an unknown and readers are taking a chance on you. Unless you’ve signed up to KDP Select (meaning you can only publish on Amazon) the minimum price you can set is £1.99
Once you have all of that ready and you’ve worked out all the details in your mind, you’re good to go.
Once you sign in to Kindle Direct Publishing (link below) you’ll find a lot of very good advice. You’ll need to create an account and then download Kindle Create which is the software package you need to use to format your book. All the help you need for this is under the ‘prepare your book’ help section. (Top tips: make sure your completed manuscript (source file) has paragraph and page breaks inserted before you convert it into a book through Kindle Create)
Once you’ve got your account, downloaded the Kindle Create programme and read the formatting advice you’re over 90% there. The software really does walk you through it step by step.
Note: if you want to sell your book in America you’ll have to complete a tax certificate – again, you’re walked through this.
If you have everything prepared, it should take you less than an hour to go through the process of converting your file to a book and going through the step by step programme on Kindle Direct Publishing. It really is that simple.
The tricky bit comes after you’ve hit the ‘publish’ button and you have to start thinking about how you’re going to market and promote your book now that it’s out there in the big wide world….
But that’s a blog post for another day 😊
As a writer, you like to think there are things about your book which will get people talking. When I wrote ‘Dancing Through Fire’ the one thing I really wanted people to talk about was the relationship between Ellie and Guy: was it appropriate / inappropriate, realistic / unrealistic, heart-warming / heart-stopping…….. For me, everything about the book centres on that one question. If you do discuss it at your book club, please let me know your thoughts! In the meantime though, here’s a list of additional book club questions to help get the book chat going.
1. How important is the setting in ‘Dancing Through Fire’?
2. Guilt is a theme which threads its way through the novel. Choose one of the characters and discuss the source and impact of their guilt.
3. The friendship between Ellie and Guy leads to unexpected feelings on both sides. Discuss the circumstances of the friendship and why you think it develops as it does.
4. Why do you think Sheila and Jack react the way they do when Ellie finds herself in trouble?
5. Consider what Guy does for Ellie. How appropriate are his actions?
6. In what way does Guy find redemption through his relationship with Ellie?
7. There are several characters to dislike in ‘Dancing Through Fire.’ Who gets under your skin the most and why?
8. ‘Dancing Through Fire’ is told from two points of view, Ellie’s and Guy’s. Did you find this an effective way to develop the story and the characters?
9. In part one you hear things from Ellie’s eighteen-year-old perspective. In part two you hear her thirty-year-old voice. As a reader, did this help you to engage with her as a character?
10. What do Maria and Sam bring to the story?
11. Discuss the reasons why Ellie’s Dad visits her in Mallorca while Guy was ill.
12. Consider the ending of ‘Dancing Through Fire’ – were there any questions raised or left unanswered for you as a reader?
I always look inside the first few pages of a book before I buy it; to see if I like the writing style and the writer’s ‘voice.’ I tend to know within a couple of pages if it’s a book for me or not.
With that in mind, I’m sharing the first three chapters of ‘Dancing Through Fire’ with you, in the hope that you take a look and decide it’s a book for you. I’m a little bit biased, but I think you’ll enjoy it 🙂
Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
It’s taken a while to take my debut novel ‘Dancing Through Fire’ from that first idea to the moment of publication – 22 years in fact. It didn’t take that long to write, you understand, it was more that teaching, single-parenting and all of life’s other adventures took over for long stretches of time. And that’s ok – that’s just as it should have been. ‘Dancing Through Fire’ was always there in the background though, and every so often, during holiday times and quiet weekends, I would fire up the computer, re-read what I’d already written, edit it for the umpteenth time (there were sometimes years in between so my writing style was changing along with my ideas …) and add a brand new chapter. Then I would put it to the side, get on with life and wait for the next clear run at writing to come along. Occasionally I would optimistically, if a little naively, send off a couple of chapters and the proposed outline to various agents and publishing houses only to be met with the usual round of rejections.
Then, around 6 years ago, I put the whole ‘I have to get a publishing contract’ notion to one side and focused instead on writing for the sheer joy of it, which brought a whole new freedom and motivation to the process. I was so much more inspired. Within a year I had finished ‘Dancing Through Fire,’ and, I’ll admit, I shed a tear or two as I wrote the last chapter because after all these years I was going to miss the two main characters, Ellie and Guy.
Once it was finished however, the strangest thing happened. Despite the satisfaction and pride I felt in my achievement I had a crisis of confidence and instead of going full steam ahead to get it published, I did nothing. For 5 years (not the kind of advice I would give to other debut novelists) Thankfully I got my act together at the tail end of last year and with family and friends behind me, went all out to self-publish, putting my first novel out into the world on faith alone. It was the right time and I do believe things happen when they’re meant to happen for reasons we don’t always understand. It’s been both exhilarating and, quite honestly, a little terrifying – will readers fall in love with my characters when they read them the way I did when I wrote them? If even one person does, then that’s success in my books.
I’m on book 2 now which is set in Elie, on Scotland’s very beautiful East coast. I plan to publish this year (not another 22 years from now) and I plan to enjoy every moment of the writing process from finding the right words to describe the beautiful things in life to falling in love with a whole new set of characters.
For now though, a huge thank you for keeping me company on this most exciting of journeys.
It’s lovely to see you here in my on-line writing world where I hope to share my news, views and updates with you.
I’m very excited to be introducing my debut novel, ‘Dancing Through Fire,’ which was a long labour of love (you can read about this in my post called ‘My Writing Journey’).
Let me tell you a bit more about it…
Set on the sun-drenched shores of Mallorca, ‘Dancing Through Fire’ is a bittersweet tale of love and redemption in an unlikely friendship.
Guy Saunders is a loner living in a dusty old farmhouse on a hilltop in Mallorca, trying to escape his tragic past.
Ellie McAllister is a naive young girl from Scotland working in a local taverna for the summer.
Following a traumatic event one evening, Ellie stumbles into Guy’s world, throwing him head first into an unlikely friendship with a traumatised teenager. Determined to heal her before she heads home at the end of the summer, Guy risks losing his closely guarded life of solitude and anonymity as he faces old ghosts and gossiping locals to save the young woman who has reawakened him.
Twelve years later, Ellie finds herself returning to the dusty old farmhouse and the man she has loved since that summer. As Guy faces his own mortality, he and Ellie struggle to come to terms with their individual pasts, and their relationship, as they take each other on a journey of love, loss and hope.
Some comments from Amazon readers:
‘A magical debut novel featuring Ellie and her personal journey. If you are looking for a read which is unputdownable while immersing yourself in an emotional roller coaster this book is for you! I loved this book and couldn’t turn each page quickly enough. The descriptions of the Island and of the many characters who Ellie meets along the way are captivating. Enjoy!’
‘An outstanding book for a debut novel. Beautifully written with a deft touch, it was a real page turner that was hard to out down. A beautiful story showing life’s twist and turns told with warmth and poignancy, created around believeable, relateable and likeable characters. When’s the next book?’
‘A light hand, poetic skill and huge empathy for characters. A truly skilled first novel.’